Right or wrong? Is using the word "GAY" in a sentence offensive to gays?

Patricia - posted on 03/15/2010 ( 53 moms have responded )

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Okay, so the guy that I am with has an ex wife who is gay....she went on a field trip with one of their children and over heard a conversation between two children..."This field trip was gay." She took offense to that....and told her daughter that she was offended. Where does the terminology of a word end? When I was a kid, GAY meant either happy or stupid....was the mother fair in saying she was offended by the statement or over reacting? I personally think she was over reacting...what do you think? By the way, her and I get along great, but I just feel the word "GAY" had a different meaning years ago.

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Bethany - posted on 03/18/2010

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Sara, you said, "it's overreacting to be upset by something a child says" and that made me want to clarify that when children say offensive things, it's we adults who are there to educate them. I wouldn't be offended by the child but by the child's parent who would allow something that offensive to be said and not checked.

LaCi - posted on 03/27/2010

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My lesbian friends don't really get offended easily. Although I don't say anything's gay, its just not one of my common words. They've never been offended by anything else I've said, and they themselves say some pretty offensive things. All my female friends are gay, minus two although one of those two was once married to a woman, but they all have the same sense of humor and are from overlapping social circles, so my gayworldview may be skewed.

Bethany - posted on 03/18/2010

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Initially (many many decades ago!), "gay" primarily and publicly referred to "happy"
and was used privately among us queer folks as a sort of code. Same as being "one of Dorothy's friends" or "an incurable bachelor" was code. Thankfully, the civil rights movement, the Stonewall riots, and now 40 years of painfully slow progress, "gay" can simply be a synonym for "homosexual" just as "queer" used to simply mean "strange" and now has been reclaimed by many gay communities as empowering (note: we can say it, straight people... hmmm maybe not so much, depends on the context).
The use of the word "gay" to mean "stupid" or anything negative is an obvious slam against the gay community. It's like the use of the word "retarded" inappropriately. It's absolutely offensive. To put it into context, what if you overheard my child say to another "this musuem is SO Patricia- blech!" LOL okay, that's silly. But the point remains- the implication is that "GAY= BAD" and this is offensive to me (as a lesbian), to anyone who might identify or be identified as "gay" and to any of our straight allies who think it's just wrong to bash someone because of who they are. There you have it- slightly more than 2 cents but just short of a dollar LOL ♥

Johnny - posted on 03/16/2010

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I'm really surprised by that Dana (M) :) I worked for several years with a "queer" outreach group for students in Victoria doing research. And virtually all of the people I worked with called themselves queer. And most of my gay friends now use that term all the time. Besides "Queer Eye" there is the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, the Qmmunity centre (community centre), the Queer Arts Festival..... I do know of a few older gay men who really do not like the term, but because it was used in such nasty ways against them in the past. I find that some lesbians I know use the term quite a lot and others (more "mainstream") do not.

[deleted account]

Using the word "gay" is more equivelant to using the word "black". It's a word that has more meaning than just a reference to a minority group. There are plenty of people in the "black" community who get outraged with negative use of the word black, such as "black sheep" which I view as pretty ridiculous. I think there's a world of difference between that and using the "N" word because that has never existed as anything but a degoritary term for black people.

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?? - posted on 03/18/2010

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I think an adult should take the time to use a situation like that to explain to a child what the meaning of gay is and how it can be considered hurtful to some people. If the child isn't in the immediate care of the adult that is offended then the adult should talk to that child's parents and ask them to explain to them the meaning and tell them that their child is using that word.

But to be offended over a child using a word, obviously incorrectly, is a bit silly. I can understand being alarmed or curious as to where the child learned it and what they mean but to be offended by it is over the top.

As for using the word gay and it being offensive to gay people. I think it can be. If it's used in a negative context with homosexuals. I think most people when they say something like "This field trip was gay" I don't think they mean "This field trip was a bad homosexual that is going to hell" I think they're using it as another word for QUEER, which is another word for ODD, WEIRD. I am not saying it's RIGHT or that it's an excuse to use the word GAY and I am not saying that HOMOSEXUALS are queer or odd or weird (althought I am odd, weird, and bisexual so who knows right!)

But just like GAY = HAPPY.... QUEER = ODD... people call homosexuals GAY and QUEER it doesn't ALWAYS mean that is what they are talking about........ if that makes any bloody sense in words... it does in my head !

[deleted account]

I agree Bethany! Everyone understands that children say things sometimes, but as parents we need to at least TRY and explain that certain things are not appropriate!

[deleted account]

I love Hog's Pudding.... thats made with offal too.... i think it's the mushy peas and onion gravy that put me off faggots.

Esther - posted on 03/17/2010

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Quoting Cathy:

No Sara ... traditionally it's faggots, mushy peas and mash, with onion gravy
http://www.circleofmoms.com/track_link.p...


From that link:

A faggot is traditionally made from pig's heart, liver and fatty belly meat or bacon minced together, with herbs added for flavouring and sometimes breadcrumbs. The mixture is shaped in the hand into balls, wrapped round with caul fat (the omentum membrane from the pig's abdomen), and baked.


Sounds yummy - NOT!

Amanda - posted on 03/17/2010

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@celia I grew up with a grandmother like yours. :0) It must be why it drives me nuts when people misuse words, or completely change the meaning of a word.

[deleted account]

Sorry ladies! Carol, Kylie.......you're right! I guess ' queer ' is ok! Maybe it's me who had the problem with it? I think of 'queer' on the same level as 'fag'.......I would use them in a derogatory context!

So, I looked it up too and although it's 5th down the list this is how I think of queer! Please also notice number 10! If I was calling someone a queer it wouldn't be a term of endearment! I'm also not challenging you Carol; you've opened my eyes and I thank you for that!

queer   /kwɪər/ Show Spelled [kweer] Show IPA adjective,-er, -est, verb, noun
–adjective
1.strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different; singular: a queer notion of justice.
2.of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady: Something queer about the language of the prospectus kept investors away.
3.not feeling physically right or well; giddy, faint, or qualmish: to feel queer.
4.mentally unbalanced or deranged.
5.Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.
a.homosexual.
b.effeminate; unmanly.
6.Slang. bad, worthless, or counterfeit.
–verb (used with object)
7.to spoil; ruin.
8.to put (a person) in a hopeless or disadvantageous situation as to success, favor, etc.
9.to jeopardize.
–noun
10.Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. a homosexual, esp. a male homosexual.

Sara - posted on 03/17/2010

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Well, thanks for educating me, Cathy! I find that kind of stuff interesting!



Do you like them?

Dana - posted on 03/17/2010

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Yes, here faggot is completely offensive and is closer to the N word than any other word, I'd say.

Sara - posted on 03/17/2010

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A "faggot" in the UK is a pork meatball and a "fag" is a ciggerette!


LOL...a pork meatball? That's hilarious! Do you actually go places and order spaghetti and faggots? Or a faggot sandwich?

I have to admit that the word "faggot" (in the American context) I find completely offensive and would never condone using. It's mean.

[deleted account]

Isn't using the word "gay" to mean crap, stupid, annoying, really just a reversal of the original meaning of carefree and happy. Reversal happens a lot in younger persons slang. Bad and wicked now mean good!

Celia - posted on 03/17/2010

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Wikipedia defanition...
Gay
The term gay was originally used, until well into the mid-20th century, primarily to refer to feelings of being "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy"; it had also come to acquire some connotations of "immorality" as early as 1637.[1]

The term later began to be used in reference to homosexuality, in particular, from the early 20th century, a usage that may have dated prior to the 19th century.[1] In modern English, gay has come to be used as an adjective, and occasionally as a noun, that refers to the people, practices, and culture associated with homosexuality. By the end of the 20th century the word gay was recommended by major style guides to describe people attracted to members of the same sex.[2][3] At about the same time, a new, pejorative use became prevalent in some parts of the world. In the Anglosphere, this connotation, among younger generations of speakers, has a derisive meaning equivalent to rubbish or stupid (as in "That's so gay."). In this use the word does not mean "homosexual", so that it can be used, for example, of an inanimate object or abstract concept of which one disapproves, but the extent to which it still retains connotations of homosexuality has been debated.[4][5]

I personally have allways had a laugh over the word Gay.. My granny who is dead, sounds mean to say it bluntly like that but she HATED softer terms like "passed on" or "is no longer with us", well she also HATED how her favorite word for happy was stolen from her by the homosexual community. She would rant that she has no problem with people and their sex life but the fact that she couldent say how gay she was feeling (haha) was just not fair.
So tit for tat in my books to the stealing of their gay word from the younger generation. Yes yes, it could be mean in its origins when it was first used to mean stupid... but maybe they thought the field trip was too bright and showy...? lol
Get over it or dont... my granny never got over them stealing her word so maybe their angst will stick around too..

Johnny - posted on 03/16/2010

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The one term everyone I know hates is "faggot" which I equivocate to the N word.

Amanda - posted on 03/16/2010

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Omg i hate the misuse of the word gay!!! The ORIGINAL meaning of GAY is

gay   /geɪ/ Show Spelled [gey] Show IPA adjective,-er, -est, noun, adverb
–adjective
1.having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.
2.bright or showy: gay colors; gay ornaments.
3.given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season.
4.licentious; dissipated; wanton: The baron is a gay old rogue with an eye for the ladies.

For the love of god it never meant homosexual men until the 70s and then it was a word used to INSULT homosexuals, since then the homosexual communties have embraced the word, and made it a everyday word to discribe a male homosexual. Speaking of gay got to go Rolling Stones music on American Idol. :0)

[deleted account]

And it's not like we have a super common name so I'm not used to it as I'm sure ur not?!! It'd be different if my name was Shelley or Samantha or Jessica......or I dunno.....Dana just isn't that common

P.S.. I always wished my mom would have spelled my name DAYNA!

Dana - posted on 03/16/2010

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I know. lol Not that we differ in opinions that much but really when you don't say something and people are saying you did, you automatically think...wth..

[deleted account]

Haha.....I HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS! LOL! You don't know how many times I've been so confused and my blood starts boiling.....

Dana - posted on 03/16/2010

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Damn, we need to start using Dana M and Dana S. I keep doing a double take when someone says Dana....you said this...and I think, uh...no I did not. lol





Wow and poofy here means something totally different.

Kylie - posted on 03/16/2010

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Dana: i wonder what your friends think about the name of that show queer eye for a straight guy? i always thought queer was an endearing word adopted by gay people.
i think because gay has more than one meaning its kind of silly for a homosexual person to feel offended by its use in the context of a kid describing a field trip. i use the word "poofy" sometimes without thinking that it actually derives from the word poofter which is definitely offensive.
I think the way a word is used and in what context matters more than the word itself.

[deleted account]

Carol: that's interesting cuz I've never heard that! I'm not challenging you just letting you know that we're in the same area and I have two different ' gay ' couples as friends and not one of the 4 of them would enjoy being refered to as a queer!? Interesting!

Sara - posted on 03/16/2010

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Carol, I think it's left over from my childhood in the early 80's that I still don't feel comfortable using the word "queer"...I realize that the gay community has taken the word back, so to speak, but I personally don't feel comfortable saying it due to my upbringing...



You could make the same argument for the "N" word as well. Some people in the black community claim it has been taken back and used to empower them...but I doubt you'd still see very many people trying to use it, I know several black people who won't use it.

Johnny - posted on 03/16/2010

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It is surprising to me that so many people here view the term "queer" as still being derogatory. In my area, the gay community has very much "re-possessed" that word and uses it all the time. It is common to hear people refer to the "queer community" in polite speech. They use it to envelop all the disparate groups like lesbians, transgendered, bisexual, etc. I would say that here, using "queer" signals that you are aligned and supportive of homosexuality and other sexualities, whatever they may be.

Sara - posted on 03/16/2010

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Cathy, when my gay friends are giving directions they say "Go Forward" instead of straight! They laugh it off...



While I do use the word gay sometimes, I never say "queer". When I was growing up, it was a very derogatory term for gay people, and it was as bad as saying "fuck" in my house, it just wasn't allowed, so I never got in the habit of saying it. I don't use the "N" word either, because it's something i consider derogatory to a group of people...just the history of that word is ugly, and it's something i don't condone. But, I don't view the word gay as being a bad word when using it to describe something, I guess.

[deleted account]

So would a homosexual person be offended if they were pulled over for drink driving and asked to walk in a "straight" line?

Erin - posted on 03/16/2010

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I agree with the comparison to the thread regarding the use of 'retard', and admit to using both words when referring to something stupid or dumb. I also understand that, when used in a different context, it can be offensive. I would never call someone with an intellectual disability a retard, nor would I call a homosexual a gay whatever.

I just think people need to lighten up sometimes. I personally find 'faggot' or 'poofter' to be far more offensive and derogatory than the use of the word 'gay' in pop culture.

[deleted account]

Gay us one of those words that has several meanings. When I was a kid, gay meant happy. Then it came to mean homosexual, and my kids now use it to mean stupid. Kids have a language all their own - wicked means cool!
Queer is another word I have problems with - it used to mean strange or unusual,now it's a derogatory term for homosexual people.

So, I guess it's just a matter of thinking before we use some words. Very confusing for little kids, though. We just need to introduce them to the complexities of our beautiful language and the fact that is always evolving.

[deleted account]

I'm a hypocrite! I admittedly use the word gay but I can see why a ' gay ' person might be offended if they heard someone using it in a negative way! As a mother I wouldn't want my kids refering to anything as gay so I'm having an " ah ha! " moment! I need to stop using the word gay negatively, especially in my daughter's company!

Isobel - posted on 03/15/2010

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It's exactly the same as the word retarded. I learned that gay meant stupid LONG before I learned either of the real definitions...it's difficult to retrain your brain to remove a word that you have always used in a harmless way...I think if it's not aimed at anybody and trying to hurt them for BEING gay...then everybody is over-reacting.



and the difference between that and the n word is that the n word has NEVER been an acceptable word in my lifetime.

Dana - posted on 03/15/2010

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That's exactly my train of thought Cassie.

Carol, I get your point too but, can anyone of us comfortably say. "I'm really gay right now" with out people getting the wrong impression. lol Doubt it. I wish it would come back though...that'd be great!

Sharon - posted on 03/15/2010

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I am sick & tired of tiptoeing around a bunch of over sensitive friggen pansies and I'm not referring to the gay people either. FUCK.

Growing up - Gay meant "stupid" or when used by my great aunt or grandmother, "happy". My son still uses the term "gay" when he wants to say something is stupid. I'm not really happy about it because I don't want him thought to be insensitive. We don't care if someone is homosexual or not. That is their life. But since people refuse to see that the word has other meanings... there isn't much we can do about it.

Nigger - bad word. It had a proper meaning but that is darkly overshadowed by the horrible application of past generations. I don't know if that word can ever get past that darkness to its real meaning.

Johnny - posted on 03/15/2010

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I tend to try to avoid using the word gay to describe something that I think is negative, although I occasionally do it as a joke. I get the idea that people would prefer that being homosexual not be linked with negative stuff. But I was told off once for calling something that I found to be odd, "queer", because it also is used to refer to gay people. The individual with the stick in their ass claimed that I was saying that homosexuals are odd. Umm... no, you people took the word queer which had an original meaning of odd and applied it to yourself. And I think it is completely acceptable to use the term gay to mean happy. It is the definition of the word, after all.

Cassie - posted on 03/15/2010

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That's a good point Dana, about the "N" word. For some reason, to me, there is a difference between that word and words such as "gay" or "retarded." I'm not sure why, but I just strongly view the "n" word as a cuss word and don't see "gay" and "retarded" in the same light. But that's a very good point; why would I view that word as any different. All three can be used by individuals in a completely non-offensive manner or can be used to tear down an entire group of people.

Dana - posted on 03/15/2010

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Not picking on anyone here....just bringing a thought to the forefront. What if the word was the "N" word. Would you be comfortable saying that as long as you did when there were no black people around?

Just a thought, no judgment here as I do use the word gay from time to time.

Another thought, what about the word queer. A lot of times that's used too. "Oh, that's queer".. Which does mean, strange or odd but has now turned into a negative way of calling someone a homosexual.

Tah - posted on 03/15/2010

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overreacting..kids have their own lingo...i'm pretty sure they weren't saying in the context of being happy...lol...but they are children...i'm sure they weren't trying to offend her.

Jessica - posted on 03/15/2010

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This may not be an overly popular opinion but I think a good majority of people are just big spazzes..... If they spent half the time laughing and not caring as they do being offended by EVERYTHING the world would be a better place. I have been in musical theatre for years and I have MANY gay friends...and I can say that I think something is gay without being worried that my words might backfire...far to many people take everything waaaaay to seriously..so the kid said the field trip was gay...I'm betting that that word did not actually effect her day in anyway, shape or form other then because she let it. She could have laughed it off..

Rosie - posted on 03/15/2010

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i was going to say something similar to what cassie has said. i think it has alot to do with the context it's said in. if i was around someone i knew was gay, i would not say it. just as if i was around someone who was "retarded" i wouldn't say that word either. i think we get so huffy, and PC in this world. i love gay people! my gay friend was in my wedding, i recently had the privledge of attending his wedding (finally!!), i am not referring to anything homosexual when i say the word gay. the act of homosexuality doesn't even enter my mind when i say gay. i'll make every attempt to try not to offend people that i know will take offense, but other than that, i'll say it.

Cassie - posted on 03/15/2010

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I have to admit that I use "gay" from time to time in reference to something stupid but am usually aware of my surroundings when I use it.



I think this debate goes hand in hand with the debate we have going "Offensive or Oversensitive" and the use of the word "retarded."



Both terms are used in our vernacular to refer to something dumb or stupid but are actual words used to refer to a person or a group of people as well. I can see both words as being both offensive and words that people may be oversensitive to. Although it seemed that most in the "retarded" thread thought people were oversensitive and it is seeming that people in this debate think it leans more towards offensive. I wonder what the difference is in our minds between the two as I view them as having an equal opportunity to be offensive and hurtful.

Krista - posted on 03/15/2010

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The problem with using the word "gay" in a sentence such as that is that it has been derived from the gay population in that it means "not good". After all, the word "gay" is found in the dictionary as someone being happy.

A friend of mine is gay and he DID take offense to that because he KNOWS that it's improper use of the word.

The being said, it's not a child's fault that they don't know the real meaning of the word. I don't think an adult should get offensive over it. However, I do think they have a right to point out the misuse of the word.

Lady - posted on 03/15/2010

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It is rather derogatory to refer to something you thought was rubbish as gay - I don't let my children do it and I tell them calling someone gay should never be used as an insult - you either are gay or straight it's not achoice is what you are. That being said I do on occassion say something is gay but it's not really meant as an insult it's more of an observation like the eurovision song contest which no one can really deny is pretty gay - not meaning it's rubbish just very homosexual.

Patricia - posted on 03/15/2010

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I agree Sara and I doubt that this child even knew that the woman was gay...for me, because it's a word that meant something different years ago, it shouldn't be taken out of context by someone who is gay....and I have gay friends as well.

Sara - posted on 03/15/2010

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I would have to say that it's overreacting to be upset by something a child says. As an adult, I think we should be more sensitive to others feelings. I do say "gay" when referring to things as stupid sometimes, but I would never do it in public and I would never say it to any of my friends who are gay. I can understand that this woman was offended, but it's a kid...sure someone should teach him some manners, but it's not like he was making a derogatory statement against gays, he just didn't like the fieldtrip. That's my opinion.

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